5 May 2003

Lawyer says Fiji mutineers should be held in military custody rather prison

4:17 pm on 5 May 2003

The lawyer representing the 56 soldiers convicted and jailed for the Labasa mutiny during Fiji's coup says his clients should be relocated from prison pending a presidential decision on their conviction.

Kitione Vuataki says his clients have been unlawfully detained without committal warrants from the President since January.

The mutineers are serving sentences ranging from life to three years and are detained at Korovou jail in Suva.

Mr Vuataki says the President is still deciding on whether to confirm or amend the soldiers convictions and sentences.

He says until that decision is made, alternative plans for the soldiers' detention should be found.

"They can only be put into prison under committal warrant, given by the President, so what we have done now is we have filed to the court asking them for an explanation to be made as to how they're held, if they're held unlawfully in prison then they have to be released, but not necessarily walk free, they might just have to go back to camp under military police custody."

Kitione Vuataki in Fiji